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Taking Command of Change:
A Practical Guide for Applying the Strategic Development Process
in State Historic Preservation Offices

by
Doug Eadie, President
Doug Eadie Presents!, Frisco, Texas
Web Edition 2003
(originally published in 1995 by the National Park Service and
The National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers)

 
Taking Command
of Change
Table of Contents
 
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgements
Executive Summary

1. Overview
 
2. Creating a Strategic Framework
 
3. External and Internal Environments
 
4. Issue Identification and Selection
 
5. Strategy Formulation
 
6. Launching a Strategic Development Process
 
7. You Can Do It!
 
8. Sources of Information on Strategic Development

 
 
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6. LAUNCHING A STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

CREATE A STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

Strategic development, if it is to yield powerful results to your SHPO Office over the long run, must be an on-going, well structured process that is not blended into the day-to-day operation of the SHPO Office’s functions and programs. The following steps can be taken to ensure that the strategic development agenda is well managed and productive for your SHPO Office:

  • ESTABLISH THE STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.

Treat all activities involved in implementing the Strategic Development Process as a STAND-ALONE SHPO OFFICE PROGRAM. This Strategic Development Program is distinct from all other SHPO programs and is specifically charged with the strategic development of the SHPO Office over the long run.

  • CREATE A PROGRAM STEERING COMMITTEE.

The SHPO Office Planning Team can serve as the Strategic Development Program Steering Committee. Wearing this "hat," the Planning Team will meet solely for the purpose of providing policy direction to the Strategic Development Program, confirming its design and plans, overseeing its operation, and reviewing and adopting any task force recommendations emerging from the Program.

  • APPOINT A PROGRAM COORDINATOR

The SHPO Office’s Strategic Development Program Coordinator will be a senior staff person who will devote between 10 and 20 percent of her or his time to serving as chief staff to the Program, in this capacity:

  • Developing the Program Design for Steering Committee review.

  • Providing staff support to the Steering Committee, ensuring that regular meetings are scheduled, that agendas are well developed, that documentation to be reviewed is received in advance, that presentations are well crafted, that Committee actions are followed up on, that the Committee is kept well briefed on Program progress and problems, and the like.

  • Closely monitoring and guiding the work of any strategy formulation task forces that are established as part of the Strategic Development Program.

  • ADOPT A DETAILED STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM DESIGN.

Key to the success of a SHPO Office’s Strategic Development Program will be the Steering Committee’s adoption of a Program design that sets forth a schedule of major Program events (such as a kick-off retreat) and explains precisely how they relate to the annual operational planning and budget preparation cycle. The Program Coordinator should take responsibility for preparing a Program Design Document for the Steering Committee’s review as one of her or his first official duties.

USE A RETREAT AS A PROGRAM JUMP-START MECHANISM

Once the Strategic Development Program is firmly established, a retreat can be used as a powerful vehicle for jump-starting the strategic development process. The six SHPO Offices involved in the "Managing for the Year 2000" Initiative found this to be the case. Their one-and-one-half-day retreats involved the following major activities:

  • Orientation on the strategic development method.

  • The development of vision and mission statements.

  • The assessment of external environmental conditions, trends, and stakeholders and of internal strengths and weaknesses.

  • The identification of a number of potential strategic issues.

  • The discussion of possible strategic change initiatives.

In all six cases, task forces were established subsequent to the retreats, for the purpose of fashioning strategic change initiatives to address selected strategic issues. It is anticipated that an annual retreat will become a standard part of each SHPO Office’s Strategic Development Program.

The following steps will help to ensure a successful retreat:

  • DEVELOP A DETAILED RETREAT DESIGN.
A key element of the design will be to ensure that enough time is set aside to achieve the desired objectives fully.

Involve all SHPO Steering Committee members in developing a detailed design for the kick-off retreat that clearly specifies what it is intended to produce, how it will be structured (for example, will break-out groups be used?), and the agenda that will be followed.

  • SET ASIDE ENOUGH TIME TO DO THE JOB FULLY.
A key element of the design will be to ensure that enough time is set aside to achieve the desired objectives fully. Nothing that involves serious consideration of complex issues and active participation can be done in less than a full day, and often more time is desirable.

  • ENSURE THAT STAFF PLAY ACTIVE ROLES IN LEADING THE RETREAT.
Nothing kills interest and enthusiasm faster than having to sit in a passive presentation/response meeting. Far more effective is a design that involves SHPO staff members in leading the retreat. One sure-fire mechanism is break-out groups that are designed to achieve specific outcomes – for example, to develop the elements of a SHPO vision, to scan the SHPO environment, to identify strategic issues in a given area, such as image and external relations. This participatory approach works best when the break-out group process is meticulously designed n terms of expected products and the methods to be used, and when group leaders are carefully selected and oriented on their facilitative roles.

  • MEET IN A COMFORTABLE, OFF-SITE LOCATION.
An off-site location well away from the SHPO Office will help to create a positive climate for the retreat. Basically, it assists participants to "suspend the rules," to set their sights higher than day-to-day operations and to be open to new viewpoints and approaches. And a comfortable setting makes it easier to sustain energy and attention.

  • INVITE IMPORTANT STAKEHOLDERS TO PARTICIPATE.
Key stakeholders will not only bring valuable information and perspectives to a SHPO Office retreat, they will also get to know the SHPO Office better and may very well become stronger allies and potential joint-venture partners. For example, among the "outside" participants in the Kansas SHPO Office retreat were two representatives of the Historic Sites Board of Review, a representative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Advisors, two Certified Local Government planners, and representatives of the Kansas Preservation Alliance and the Historic Resources Committee of the American Institute of Architects.

  • RETAIN A PROFESSIONAL FACILITATOR, IF FEASIBLE.
One way to ensure that your SHPO Office retreat is highly productive is to retain the services of a professional facilitator to assist in planning and facilitating the retreat. A skilled third-party facilitator can make sure that the discussion does not bog down and can guide consideration of sensitive issues that would be difficult to address without outside assistance.

  • PROVIDE FOR FOLLOW-UP.
By designing follow-up into the retreat, a SHPO Office can avoid the puzzlement, frustration, and anger that often result from a retreat that fails to generate concrete progress subsequent to the event. One simple tactic is to make sure that the third-party facilitator’s contract requires the preparation of a detailed follow-up report that summarizes the major points made during the retreat and also recommends next steps. It is important that such a report be reviewed line-by-line by all retreat participants as soon after the retreat as feasible, and that explicit decisions are made relative to the follow-up steps.

 

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